A condition of my Dad’s impending retirement is that he must, of course have a sleeveless jumper to wear to celebrate this milestone… and to look properly retired, you know?
I was given the instruction that it must be a sludgy colour, not too thick and with ‘none of that fancy nonsense’. This was later interpreted as ‘not to look like the aran jumpers of his youth, but could have a couple of cables’. I have been, after a couple of false starts and froggings knitting him a DK-weight slipover from a 1965 Stitchcraft magazine. As well as the bound 1930s and ’40s copies that I wrote about before, I have a nice selection of mid-1960s Stitchcrafts that proves to be a great resource for the changing fashions in knitwear.
Although four years shy of being vintage, this issue of Stitchcraft was published in October 1965 so is certainly old enough for the pattern to be considered retro. The pattern that I’m knitting is a unfussy-looking men’s slipover with a 2×1 rib on the back and part of the front. The only real detail are a pair of plain, untwisted cables. From the title, these cables were considered a ‘continental design’. Within this issue and the two before it, there are a number of garments described in the same way. The ladies’ knitwear in particular is noted to be taking its inspiration from Zurich. There is no particular note in the editorial stating that this is something new, in fact the knitwear gets no mention at all as apparantly ‘everyone is taking up crochet again’ and making cushions, rugs and cot covers. From the notes in the other patterns, the ‘continental style’ means an untwisted type of cabling, in a variety of forms.
The chap wearing the slipover in the picture accompanying the pattern is styled in something reminiscent of an off-duty Roger Moore from The Saint. The slipover (as my Dad attests) is perhaps today the preserve of either the hipster or the older man, but in this picture the wearer appears to be a family man, pehaps in his forties. The suggestion in the photograph seems to be that he would be happier wearing a sleek, continental design jumper along with his knitted tie, rather than an older man’s more patterned and textured one. This slipover is for a younger man. He is pictured standing in a jaunty pose with what I think are large fireworks. They’re deliberately thrown out of focus, but I believe the connotation is that he would be lighting the fireworks the next month for his 0wn children, wearing a slipover to keep out the chill. There is a further pattern in the booklet for children’s sweaters where they are styled handling fireworks (!!) The timing of the pattern’s issue, of course gives the knitter a month or so to complete the garment (and those for the fire-wielding children, should they wish some new jumpers too).
Patterns started to be multi-sized in the 1960s and this has three sizes: 38-39″, 40-41″ and 42-43″. By today’s standards this is not much of a range, but certainly gives more ready choice to the knitter than the usual one size given in previous decades. It was implicit previously that the maker of a pattern would be able to size garments up and down accordingly. A big difference in the size range I noticed, was that today sizes are more often than not given in two inch increments, e.g 40-42″. There really is not much of a size difference between the sizes, and with the amount of ribbing in the slipover, there is definitely room for ease. I am making the largest size for my Dad who usually wears a size 42-44. The back, unstretched is measuring approximately 16″, and being ribbed has a good deal of ease in it. The original pattern calls for Paton’s Flair in Peacock, but according to my Dad’s wishes for a sludgy colour, I’m using some Paton’s DK Merino Superwash in Olive. I’m pleased to be able to use a Paton’s yarn, like the original, and although difficult to capture, the colour of the wool that I’m using is just a touch darker than in the picture above. If you’d like, you can see my Ravelry project page here.
I’m approximately halfway through the pattern and will definitely have it finished for Bonfire Night. It remains to be seen whether my Dad will be wearing it to light any fireworks this year, however.